In the lead-up to the recent Amazon Summit in Belém do Pará, Brazil, which gathered the heads of state of Amazonian countries, the Inter-American Network of Academies of Sciences (IANAS) and the Brazilian Academy of Sciences (ABC) jointly organized the "Science By and For the Amazon" meeting in Manaus, Amazonas, on 2 and 3 August. This event brought together representatives from academies of sciences across the Americas to discuss sustainable alternatives for the Amazon biome.
The culmination of these discussions resulted in the "Manaus Letter," a powerful document in which these organizations passionately advocate for an end to deforestation by 2030 and a shift toward sustainable economic models in the region. The Manaus Letter's importance was underscored by its presentation to the Minister of Science, Technology & Innovation of Brazil, Luciana Santos, during the Amazonian Dialogues that preceded the Belém Summit. These dialogues provided a platform for discussions between civil society organizations and government representatives from Amazonian countries.
Helena Nader, President of ABC and Co-President of IANAS, emphasized the critical role that academies of sciences can play in bridging the gap between scientific knowledge and policy implementation. She stated, "Although studies and diagnoses exist, they often fail to reach policymakers and decision-makers. Through the IANAS Amazon Initiative, we aim to build bridges that close this gap, strengthening sustainable development alternatives for the region. In this endeavour, it is essential for scientists from the Amazon region to be directly involved, contributing to 'Science by and for the Amazon.'"
Karen Strier, a member of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States and Co-President of IANAS, highlighted the significance of the Manaus Letter's endorsement by all academies of sciences in the Americas. She stressed that this endorsement reflects a shared understanding that science is crucial for sustainable conservation and development solutions in the Amazon, and that protecting this biome is a responsibility that transcends borders.
Ambassador Antonio Ricarte, representing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Brazil) and responsible for organizing the Amazon Summit, emphasized the Amazon's importance not only for the planet but also for the national sovereignty of countries. He noted that the Manaus Letter should serve as the basis for formulating effective policies to combat deforestation, monitor the biome, and improve the living conditions of Amazonian peoples.
Indigenous leader André Baniwa, director of the Territorial Demarcation Department of the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples (Brazil), expressed hope for meaningful dialogue between scientists and traditional knowledge holders. He stated, "The impression I have is that scientists are very interested in this dialogue with traditional knowledge. It is time to move forward in this direction. I hope that in the near future, we can see tangible progress."
Similarly, the Secretary-General of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO), María Alexandra López, called on researchers to engage actively in practical solutions. She asserted that scientists have become political actors and should address the problem directly and immediately.
Biologist Andrea Encalada, representing the Academy of Ecuador and the Scientific Panel for the Amazon, highlighted the diversity of actions taken during the discussions. She remarked, "It was essential to witness how different academies can collaborate on solutions for the Amazon. The letter we collectively composed reflects our ability to work together in various areas."
During the Amazonian Dialogues in Belém, the Brazilian Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation, Luciana Santos, commended IANAS for uniting the academies of sciences in the region around a document. She announced the government's plans to establish an "IPCC of the Amazon" to consolidate data and generate regular reports. The minister expressed the government's commitment to contribute to the implementation of public policies that benefit the Amazon's populations.
This collaboration between IANAS and ABC, as well as the broader engagement of academies of sciences across the Americas, underscores the critical role that science plays in addressing the pressing challenges of the Amazon biome and its significance on a regional and global scale.
Read the IANAS press release: